Sanjo Munechika

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  • Japanese: 三条 小鍛治 宗近 (Sanjou Kokaji Munechika)

Sanjô Munechika was a Heian period swordsmith whose blades include some of the oldest and most famed of Japanese Swords. His fame is such that he features as a character in the Noh play Kokaji, in which he is assisted by a fox spirit in producing a sword for the emperor.[1]

While a number of Kofun period swords have been excavated from archaeological sites, the oldest extant signed tachi, passed down and never buried, is likely one by Munechika. Another blade by Munechika has long been used (and continues to be used today) to top the naginata-hoko ("Halberd Float") which leads the procession in Kyoto's ancient Gion Matsuri.

Munechika also produced the sword now known as Ebina Kokaji. Owned by the Ashikaga shoguns, and later by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it was recovered after the siege of Osaka by agents of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and is today held in the Tokugawa Art Museum.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pitelka, 138-140.